Jesus used many analogies when he talked about the Kingdom of God. He likened Heaven to a hidden treasure, a landowner, a pearl of great price, a mustard seed, and many other things throughout His public ministry. One parable he never told was the Circus and the Kingdom of God, but He might have if P.T Barnum had lived in first-century Jerusalem.
The life of legendary entertainer Phineas T. Barnum was recently brought to the big screen by 20th Century Fox in the imaginative musical film The Greatest Showman. While the movie took many liberties in regards to historical accuracy, it highlighted some important spiritual principles from which we can learn and apply in our spiritual life. Barnum is portrayed as a disadvantaged visionary. While he is unsure of exactly how the gifts he possesses will unfold on the canvas of his life, he is certain that he is called to greatness. More importantly, he desires to share this vision and invites others to “leave behind their narrow mind and never be the same.”
In spite of the protesters and naysayers, he lifts up the weaknesses, insecurities, and oddities of those cast into the shadows, taking their individual human frailties and using them to fortify the foundation of The Greatest Show on Earth. The circus he founded ran from 1871 until 2017.
The foresight of P.T. Barnum shook the shallow perceptions of society and challenged people to see beyond the surface and rather gaze into the uniqueness of each person to find potential and possibility. His life’s story might be summed up by quoting 2 Corinthians 12:9, “but He said to me, ‘My Grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ I will gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
Through the eyes of Barnum, we might find the Kingdom of God to be like a Circus. Think about the parallels. Jesus invited and called those marginalized and looked down upon to help Him accomplish His earthly mission, not the elite and those in authority:
“As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office; and he said to him, ‘follow me’. And he rose and followed him. And as he sat at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this they said to his disciples, why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners (Matthew 9:9-11)?”
Jesus knows that it is those who have the least often take the most significant risks to adore Him, defend the Kingdom, and spread the Gospel. Why? Because when you have nothing, the only things you have to lose are your insecurities, oddities, and weaknesses. When you bring these to Christ, His grace strengthens and enables His perfect power to work through you converting and opening blinded eyes.
So if at times you feel out of place in this world, like you don’t fit into the mold of society, and are burdened by your own weaknesses, you are being called to join Jesus’ disciples and strive for the Kingdom of Heaven in a more profound way. Welcome to The Greatest Church On Earth.